Imagining modernity through architecture in contemporary China

Jiawen Han, Harry Margalit

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This paper explores the role and significance of imagining modernity in the formation of contemporary architecture in China. Modern China adopted modernization through novel architectural forms, evolving distinct modern patterns from a re-imagined modern world. By examining Chinese architectural development over the last twenty years, the study reveals that the building boom and novel architectural forms are to some extent fostered by an imagined modernity. The authors argue the rendered architectural drawings used in rapid urban development in China do not merely visualize and legitimize architects' aspirations; they contribute to the imagining of modernity, which offers homogenous dreams of the metropolis for different regions regardless of their specific social condition. These drawings are reproduced through print-based media, and more significantly, in visual and electronic media via the computer. It is argued that the specific imagined modernity manifested in architectural renderings sheds light on the distinctive process of contemporary Chinese modernity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-39
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Design in Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Architectural Rendering
  • China
  • Chinese Modernity
  • Contemporary Architecture
  • Imagined Modernity

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